While Boston Celtics star Jayson Tatum has received his flowers from Paul Pierce and oddsmakers, yet another 2008 NBA Finals champion — Kevin Garnett — has named the 24-year-old veteran as a frontrunner in the early MVP conversation.
Garnett, who was named the 2004 NBA MVP, joined Pierce for a discussion on the topic during an installment of SHOWTIME Basketball?s “KG Certified.” While Garnett didn’t rank is MVP candidates in any particular order, he did note that Tatum is his “leading candidate.”
“I got Luka (Doncic) in that conversation,” Garnett told Pierce. “Just because he’s been consistent. … Jayson Tatum’s in there. Jayson Tatum’s probably my leading MVP right now. Just because of how consistent he is and the fact that he’s been making defensive plays late in the game — and that’s putting forth the effort. Like, I got him as the leading candidate right now.”
Garnett added: “Spider Mitchell, before he got hurt and all that, was just on his way to just making noise and putting Cleveland in a position to where we starting to pay attention a little more. … I gotta do honorable mention and (Joel) Embiid missed some time and then came back from three games and then started this right here.”
Tatum has averaged 30.3 points — a career-high — with 7.4 rebounds and 4.5 assists while shooting 47.3% from the field, 35.3% from beyond the arc and 86.9% from the charity stripe through 16 games played. The All-Star forward trails Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant (490 points) by five points for the NBA lead in total points, as of Saturday.